Release: 7th December 2015
Format: BR / DVD
Set in Los Angeles, California, the series follows a dysfunctional family composed of high school guidance counselor Madison Clark, her English teacher boyfriend Travis Manawa, her daughter Alicia, and her drug-addicted son Nick, at the onset of the zombie apocalypse. The four must either revamp themselves or cling to their deep flaws as they come to terms with the impending collapse of civilization.
It is easy to be cynical about a property such as Fear the Walking Dead. At its bare bones, this is a cash-in on the arguably waning franchise. But try to reserve judgement if you can, as what Fear the Walking Dead has in spades is innovation.
Once you get past the shows so-so pilot episode, things really kick in to gear and by the time the likes of 1.03 The Dog and 1.04 Not Fade Away claw into your brain; it is clear to see why this could quite easily steal the blood soaked throne of daddy.
Where The Walking Dead quickly became a show about survival and necessity, Fear the Walking Dead is about loss, trust and…well, fear. The zombie syntax of The Walking Dead is almost non-existent in Fear the Walking Dead. When the un-dead do appear – and it is really rather rare – they represent something confusing, troubling and subversive. The show has a rather insidious tone, which creeps up over six episodes, and leaves you with a sense of unknowing and foreboding. What makes things all the more interesting is that you never quite know who to rely on, who to root for and who will last the night. The ‘red shirt’ tendencies of The Walking Dead are far from common place here.
The main niggle with Fear the Walking Dead is that its characters behave in very odd ways. For starters no one, and I mean NO ONE, seems to have any understanding what a zombie is. The show functions as though in their universe, none of these people have ever heard of the dead rising. There is also a sense of linearity; where as a character experiences new horrors, they follow a specific set of responses unique from everyone else. This is archetype central. We have a druggie, a mother figure, a bratty teenager, an angry old man, a socialist, an anarchist. Each person makes part of a puzzle. Would it really hurt to; for once, just have people who react in similar ways or vie for dominance? I’m pretty sure the end of the world wouldn’t be so clear cut. Thankfully this does start to iron itself out near the end of episode 5 and into episode 6.
This being said, what I liked most about Fear the Walking Dead was that it really felt different to its old man, The Walking Dead. The visual style, the dialogue, the energy, everything had a unique quality that made me feel like this was something new rather than just more of the same. It used drug abuse and social angst as an alternate lens through which to view things, and made no attempts at ‘rewarding’ patience with disembowelled cast member. But that isn’t to say Fear the Walking Dead is light on gore. Oh no, there is plenty of claret to go around.
Film Grade: B-
A measley duo of features do this big budget project a serious disservice. There is an Inside Look which was likely shown on AMC at some point beofre the show went live. It offers very little actual insight into the show. Then by some cosmic joke, footage from the 4 minute feature is re-used in an even shorter Meet the Cast, which is just a joke.
Even a few episodes of the webisode Flight 462 would’ve gone a long way. But sadly they are nowhere to be seen.
Special Features Grade: E
Great show. Shoddy treatment for the home market.